Last year I was co-leading a drama ministry at my church. After nine months of creating and performing original dramas, a series of events, along with the Holy Spirit’s nudge, convinced us the group should not continue. My co-leader and I agreed to pray about the decision for several weeks; we were hesitant to let go of something we had innovated that had become so successful (i.e. popular). After several weeks of prayer, the Lord made it clear that the group needed to end. Within a month of calling in quits, circumstances confirmed that the decision had been the right one. The Lord also provided new and vital ministries for me and my co-leader.
At Desiring God, Bethlehem Baptist’s executive pastor, Sam Crabtree, meditates on why survival isn’t important. He advocates holding loosely to our dreams and ministries, and focusing instead on being the people God has called us to be.
On occasion I have said to the staff and elders that I don’t care whether Bethlehem goes out of existence, if in order to survive we become the wrong Bethlehem. If we can first settle the issue of what God wants us to be, who we are, what we are, what we believe and stand for (because we must), survival becomes secondary. If we survive, we survive. If we perish, we perish. If we grow, we grow. If we diminish, we diminish. To settle the issue of survival is freedom!
I heard a lyric yesterday from the Superchick song Beauty from Pain, that mirrored this idea:
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know I’m alive
But I feel like I’ve died
And all that’s left is to accept that it’s over
My dreams ran like sand through the fist that I made
How often have I held onto something, only to stand by helplessly as I watched it slip away. If I had just handed it to the Lord in the first place, I would have been free. Crabtree says:
The battle is the Lord’s. But if we choose to make the battle ours, and choose to make survival the goal of the battle, then we start to figure the angles, make subtle accommodations, compromise here and there, demote moral conviction, and do anything to win, to survive. What we need is a fundamental shift in the center of gravity in our lives from focusing on survival of ourselves to glorifying God, even in death.
Fighting for survival against God’s will wastes precious energy and resources. Open your fist and watch God work.
HT: Justin Taylor